“Michael Jordan or Larry Bird? They’re 1-2”: Patrick Ewing’s Diplomatic Response When Asked Which Dream Team Player Was a Better Trash Talker
The 90s marked a period of growing popularity and fame for the NBA. One of the major contributory factors towards this was the popularity and success of the USA Basketball Dream Team starring Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and all the superstars of the 80s and 90s.
Arguably one of the greatest rosters ever constructed, the Dream Team lived up to its name. Dominating everyone on the way, the Dream Team flexed the quality of the NBA to the basketball world. An average margin of victory of 43.8 points per game highlighted the strength of Team USA in comparison to the rest of the world.
And one element where the Dream Team had a definite stronghold over the rest of the world was in the trash-talking department. With the likes of Michael Jordan and Larry Bird leading the team, demoralizing the opponents was a job that involved words as well as the ball.
Also read: “Angola is in trouble!”: Charles Barkley issued a warning before 1992 Dream Team’s first game
The iconic trash-talking stories of MJ and Bird in particular are a part of basketball culture today. The two feature constantly in debates surrounding who was the better trash talker or the best trash talker of all time. And who better to weigh in on this debate than a long-time fierce rival who also served as a teammate to both of them?
Patrick Ewing is the man under the spotlight here. In an interview with Reggie Miller, Ewing was asked the ever-relevant question regarding who the better trash talker was between Jordan and Bird.
How did Patrick Ewing respond to Reggie Miller’s question on Michael Jordan and Bird?
If you expected a response that would give you a definitive answer to the debate, be prepared to be disappointed. Ewing went the diplomatic path, stating that Bird and Jordan were #1 and #2 without mentioning who was ranked where.
“I’m gonna name them 1-2. They’re right up there, equal” in Ewing’s words. As someone who probably was on the receiving end of Bird and MJ’s verbal attacks for years, a clear winner could have been selected by Patrick Ewing. But maybe they actually were equals in the trash-talking department?
The former Knicks center went on to elaborate on the basis of his Dream Team experience. Ewing even went on to mention trash-talk as the reason Bird and Ewing became close.
As the former big man put it, “Larry’s back was messed up and he wasn’t able to perform the way he normally does, but he still had the mouth. There was no shutting him up. That’s the reason why we got so close. He used to talk so much to me I could do nothing but join him.”
Trash-talking clearly can lead to friendship and not just animosity. While Ewing may not have gotten us to answer to Jordan v Bird, he clearly sheds light on how intense the trash-talking was.
Has Patrick Ewing been at the receiving end of memorable trash-talk moments by the duo?
Absolutely, yes. Ewing led the Knicks as they fought Bird’s Celtics and Jordan’s Bulls for bragging rights in the East. However, unfortunately for Patrick Ewing, most encounters were disappointing and even involved some epic trash-talk.
With Jordan, the trash-talk is continuing to date, according to Ewing. Jordan continues to harass the former Knicks man for having never beaten him when it counts. MJ continues to rub salt into old wounds in typical MJ fashion, it would appear.
Bird appears to be a bit more gentle to his friend, in that the trash talk isn’t relentless even today. But there was no mercy while they faced off on the court. After a couple of failed block attempts on Bird, Ewing was told to “Better sit down, you going to pop your arm out of the socket before you get this”.
Bird and Jordan both enjoyed considerable success against Ewing and the Knicks. Naturally, the big man was at a trash-talking disadvantage against his more illustrious peers. And the same is evident from the trash-talking stories listed above.
Jordan and Bird clearly talked the talk and walked the walk. And the trash-talking was incomparable to anyone else, as Ewing puts it.
Also read: “Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Chuck Person, and I would’ve had everybody discombobulated”: Gary Payton reveals his brutal 1990s trash-talking team